Double demerits in force from midnight

Drivers have been asked to think about whether they want to spend their Christmas with loved ones or trauma doctors.

Westmead Hospital director of trauma Dr Jeremy Hsu joined police in Sydney to plead for NSW drivers to be safe this holiday period.

Double demerit points will apply from midnight  on Thursday until January 2 as part of NSW Police Operation Safe Arrival.

Eighteen people died during last year’s 13-day Christmas period and almost 1000 were booked for drink-driving.

Meanwhile, 12,000 motorists were charged with speeding.

But Dr Hsu made fatigue the focus of his plea.

He said 20 per cent of crashes resulting in serious injuries were fatigue-related.

‘‘When you’re driving 100 km/h, a four-second micro sleep results in you travelling 111 metres without any conscience control,’’ he said.

‘‘Essentially you’ve turned your car into a lethal weapon.

‘‘Our most severely injured patients will undergo multiple operations, spend weeks in intensive care and then months or even years undergoing rehabilitation.’’

Deputy Commissioner Catherine Burn says anyone speeding, drinking, drug taking, speaking on their mobile phone or not wearing a seat belt will be targeted by an increased police presence on NSW roads.

‘‘We will have large numbers of traffic and highway patrol police out in force,’’ she said.

‘‘On our motorways, our main roads, they’ll be on our country roads, on our back roads.

‘‘If you are caught speeding excessively over this period of time you may well lose your licence on the side of the road right then and there.’’

The NSW road toll stands at 332 so far this year, 23 less than the same time last year.

Police Minister Mike Gallacher says even drivers who follow the road rules can find themselves in crashes.

He urged drivers of all ages to ‘‘switch on’’ when behind the wheel - being aware of what other drivers were doing as well.

AAP

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